Guitar Cam Fun

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Please don’t tell my wife how many little HD cameras I have. She wouldn’t be mad, but she would certainly tease me without mercy. These things have gotten so inexpensive that each one seemed like a reasonable purchase, it’s only when I look at all of them spread out on a table that I realize what I’ve done.

Now that I’ve done it, though, I’m pondering uses for all these gadgets. One that I’ve been playing with for a while is a “guitar cam” – a camera mounted directly on the guitar and giving an unusual view of the performance. With all these cams hanging around and Lynnie out of town I went to work. (more…)


A First Look at the Zoom Q3HD

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Most of my video work consists of “look at me” videos I post on YouTube, shots of my slack key guitar playing. The audio is at least as important as the video, and a couple of my camcorders, the Sanyo Xacti HD2000 and the Kodak Zi8, were chosen because they had some sort of audio input and some degree of control over that input. In both cases, though, I’ve never been really happy with the audio I was able to record with these cams, even when I used an external source. Both these cameras, and others I’ve tried, have some kind of processing on the audio that attempts to maintain a constant level. And, of course, the audio circuitry gets a pretty small share of the development and manufacturing budget. The combination of these factors results in noisy distorted audio unless every detail is exactly right, a rare thing indeed. (more…)


Some Mics for the Kodak Zi8

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I’ve been touting the Zi8 as a low priced tool for “look at me” YouTube videos because it allows the use of an external mic. It’s usually the case that our preferred framing for a shot moves the camera some distance from the subject. This means that the sound recorded by the camera mic is heavily affected by the sound of the room, and that is rarely a good thing for sound quality.

By separating the mic from the camera, I should be able to position the mic for optimum sound while placing the camera for the visual effect I want. Of course, I can do this wihout an audio input on the camera by a technique called parallel recording, that is, recording on a separate audio system of some kind. The familiar clack of the slate at the start of a movie sequence is used to make it easy to synchronize the picture and sound, and this technique works very well for my homebrewed videos as well. Still it’s very tempting to think that recording directly to the camera is an easier way out, with camera audio every take and every edit lining up without any extra effort. (more…)


Kodak Zi8 – Pocket HD with Audio Input

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

I was already in Hawai`i on my vacation – can you take a vacation from being retired? – when I learned of the new Kodak Zi8. Now I already have a collection of video cameras that gets me teased by my wife, but this new shooter was too good to pass up. I’ve had it here in beautiful Kailua, O`ahu for a couple of weeks now and posted two videos.

I’m pretty pleased with this new camcorder. Let’s look at the pros and cons: (more…)


About the Blog

    Howdy, my name is Fran Guidry and this is my Homebrewed Music blog.

    I play Hawaiian slack key guitar and recorded my solo acoustic CD at home. Most of the recording information I find on the internet seems focused on bands, drums, multitracking, and so on but my main focus is recording solo acoustic guitar. Lately I’ve been enjoying video recording along with audio, so that shows up in the blog as well.

    I’m also a guitar nut. I love big ones and little ones, handmades and factory guitars, cheap ones and expensive ones. So I’ll be sharing the fun of exploring guitars as well, along with the challenges of amplifying acoustic guitars for live performance.



    My recording philosophy is pragmatic, skeptical, not super critical. After all, the performance is by far the most important component of a track, and every aspect of any recording is a matter of taste.

    But I do like to know “about stuff.” Back in hifi days I learned about double blind testing. I learned that we humans can easily hear differences that don’t really exist. The more I’ve learned about our human auditory system, the more I’m skeptical of what people say they hear, especially if they claim that a particular microphone or preamp or cable has some magical property.

    I’ve only been recording since 2001, and when I started I found the usual places on the internet. I sought advice and accepted it, thought I would improve my recordings by using more expensive equipment. It didn’t work.

    Two things that did seem to lead to better recordings were experience and room treatment. Getting an appealing sound is the combination of many small details, and learning those details only comes from experience. Amd the sound of the recording space is obviously a big factor.

    I’ve only recorded seriously using digital technology, but I remember trying to record rehearsals and gigs back in analog days. I don’t have any nostalgia for analog recording and playback systems at all. I think even low end digital systems can capture marvelous recordings. So when I look at gear, I look for good specs: low noise, broad flat frequency response, wide dynamic range, low distortion. I’m not interested in colorful components, mics and preamps with a sound, I want the sound to be the sound of my guitar.

    But the last word is that I’m just learning and I hope you find something useful in my posts.